439 of 442 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult, but somehow comforting for those in grief
Lewis' book (journal, really) captures the feeling of those in grief, there is no doubt about that. June 16, 2000 my wife left this life, 8 weeks to the day after our first child was born. In the midst of our struggle, there were several books that my family and I found comfort in, and this book was one of them.
I rated this book 4 stars because it's difficult. It's...
Published on May 12, 2001 by M. Todd Hall
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for Some
This book came very highly recommended, but I didn't find it to be as cathartic for me as many others have. But that's the nature of grief - every grief is different, so I'm not surprised that I would react differently to this than some people did. Many of Lewis' observations about his own grief resonated with me, but I had a hard time dealing with some others that were...
Published 3 months ago by Kate McDJ
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439 of 442 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult, but somehow comforting for those in grief,
This review is from: A Grief Observed (Hardcover)Lewis' book (journal, really) captures the feeling of those in grief, there is no doubt about that. June 16, 2000 my wife left this life, 8 weeks to the day after our first child was born. In the midst of our struggle, there were several books that my family and I found comfort in, and this book was one of them.
I rated this book 4 stars because it's difficult. It's not difficult to read, it doesn't contain long arguments or technical language. The content is hard for those in the throws of grief. And yet it is somehow comforting to know that you're not alone, the feelings that you feel aren't the signs of insanity. I remember several times thinking I was going insane, that I'd finally lost it...only to read those exact thoughts from Lewis' journal.
Lewis' experience with grief was different from mine, too. I suppose everyone's is different in some way. Lewis is angry with God, and he struggles with his faith. He explains that it wasn't that he was in danger of losing his belief in God, but that he "was in danger of coming to believe such terrible things about him." You may identify with Lewis' words, and I truly believe you'll find comfort in this book.
If I may, I would like to recommend another book for those who suffer and those in ministry to the suffering, as well. Nicholas Wolterstorff's LAMENT FOR A SON captures the intimate details of grief, and in many ways I identified more with Wolterstorff than I did with Lewis.
For those who've lost, this book is a difficult and yet rewarding right of passage. You travel down the narrow path, on hallowed ground. You make a journey that those who haven't made cannot speak of, and you can find comfort in the experience of those who travel with you.
For those in ministry, this book is an excellent insight into the pain of those to whom you minister. Lewis attempts to coldly analyze his grief, and in the end he cannot. He simply expresses his grief without even attempting to gloss over it. The information you can glean from this book for your ministry is immeasurable.
God bless you as you travel down this long and painful road. Remember, as Lewis did, the hope that will sustain you: God who raises the dead. The journey is difficult, but in the end we will see and hold them again. God be with you.
183 of 185 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite CS Lewis book...,
This review is from: A Grief Observed (Hardcover)After having read several of Lewis' books, I read "A Grief Observed" which quickly became my favorite. It is his journal - and almost too personal - where you bear witness to Lewis' progress as he sloughs his way through the deep mire of sorrow and grief.
In the first pages of the book, he tells of going to God, seeking relief from the agony he feels in his heart over the fresh loss of his beloved wife, Helen Joy, only to find - the door slammed and the sound of the door being bolted and doubled bolted from the inside.
He rails against God and his faith is stirred to its core.
In the end, he finds his way back to God, but it is not an easy journey or a primrose path.
For all of Lewis' intellectual reasonings and scholarly attainments, I find "A Grief Observed" to be his best work because it comes from the very heart of a man seeking to find the answers to life's hardest questions. It is not a philosophical insight or an intellectual wrangling, but a spirit-filled work that lays bare the heart of a man who loved his wife completely.
This is an important book. Read it. You'll be changed.
113 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An honest book that doesn't try to simplify grief,
This review is from: A Grief Observed (Mass Market Paperback)This work chronicles Lewis' struggle to come to terms with the death of his wife. Because it comes from his private journals, it may not seem as "polished" as some of his other writings. Personally, I appreciate the way it reveals the innerworkings of a very emotional and private man.
In contrast to many works, this book doesn't try to simplify grief, justify it, or dance around the issue with pat observations or cheery reminders. Instead, it dares to question those very tactics. Lewis allows himself to feel a broad range of emotions, including doubt and great despair. I love this quality in Lewis: he is one of the few Chrisitian writers who is brutally honest about his fears and anger. His writings allow that God is big enough to handle our toughest questions.
This little book is full of images and ideas that will stay with you long after you've finished it. Lewis takes feelings that you can't quite pinpoint and eloquently puts them into words. As I read the book, I kept thinking to myself "Yes, THAT'S what I feel too!" Misery does love company, and Lewis is excellent company.
As usual, Lewis is full of astute observations and points to ponder, but don't expect a bunch of clean and pretty answers. At the end, his grief is still very much a work in progress, which is definitely how it has been in my life....a journey.
58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable book of faith,
"A Grief Observed" is about Lewis' crisis of faith following the death of his wife, poet Joy Davidman, whom he wed in the final decade of his life, well aware she was dying of cancer. Their romance and the tragedy that befell them was later dramatized in the play "Shadowlands," and the subsequent film starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger.
It's easy to see why Lewis, a famous Christian apologist who also wrote "The Chronicles of Narnia" and "The Screwtape Letters," first published "A Grief Observed" under the pseudonym of N.W. Clark. The brutally honest reactions to tragedy and its effect on his definition of God would have shocked his faithful readers and might have tarnished his reputation. We are taught to love God and accept that He loves us. To question that thesis, or to express anger at God or to doubt his character, might be construed as blasphemy.
Lewis writes that grief feels much like fear at times. "Meanwhile, where is God?" he asks. God is present, or seems to be, when all is well. "But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away."
Lewis does not doubt God's existence, but wonders if the Supreme Being is not what He has claimed to be.
"The conclusion I dread is not 'So there's no God after all,' but 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'"
These are not the kind of thoughts that many Christians would ever dare express which is why they are often of little help to those seeking reassurance or balm for their wounds. Too many self-described "Christians" are cliquish and cantankerous, professing a belief in the interest of feeling superior to those on the outside of their faith: "I'm saved, you're not. Na, na, na, na, na."
There is no such boasting from Lewis. Tragedy taught him that faith in God requires hard work, and if C.S. Lewis can struggle with belief, certainly we can, too. A remarkable, comforting book.
Brian W. Fairbanks
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comforting AND Challenging,
This review is from: A Grief Observed (Mass Market Paperback)Five months ago, I lost a dear friend and in that time, many have felt compelled to recommend books to me on grief. It is this one, however, that has helped my wounded heart the most. I consider C.S. Lewis one of the greatest minds and authors ever - and to hear his honesty and questioning of God in the face of great tragedy made me realize that all I was feeling was "okay" in a sense. And so I continue through the pain, comforted by the writings of this man, and learning from him as well. I would recommend this book to anyone going through the mourning process. And even if you are not, it is good to read to help identify with those who are.
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book Should be at the Ready for Everyone,
A Grief Observed was one of my husband's gifts to me recently after my dad died. I was having nightmares of his death then becoming saddened in the daylight hours when I realised that I couldn't remember what he looked like. I have been trained in Hospice and counseled people through grief, yet was in shock when it happened to me. When my husband gave me this book, I opened it to a page where CS was talking about how he couldn't remember what his wife looked like, that pictures were meaningless-- once again, he was where I was, on my level with me. In spite of me being Russian Orthodox and CS being western in his thought, his writingis influenced by his search for knowing God, not by any particular church and I appreciate that and can relate to him very well.
I have perused this book many times. When someone dies in our society, there is no prescribed time for mourning for immediate family members. I found that my mother was the one to be comforted more than anything--- as his widow, she deserves that-- but in spite of being an adult child, I still hurt and cry at different times and the hurt surprises me for when it hits. In spite of CS writing about his wife, this is a great companion for "lesser mourners" as well as the main person affected. This book is a great comfort to anyone who experiences a loss of someone they love.
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Help in Time of Grief,
Recently I heard this story: `Douglas Gresham, C.S. Lewis's stepson recently released a book about Lewis called Jack's Life. It includes a DVD interview, where Gresham states that Lewis did not intend to publish A Grief Observed; it was a personal notebook. When it was published it was under the pseudonym NW Clark and by a publisher Lewis had never published with. Gresham also said that Lewis received numerous copies of the book as gifts from friends who thought it would help.' That speaks to the power in Lewis's writing; even his friends thought the book would be helpful for him as he journeyed through his grief.
Lewis states in his book The Four Loves: "We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him, throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it." That view is drastically changed when he writes Grief. In A Grief Observed we have a very different approach. Lewis presents a very visceral response to the loss of his wife. An example of this is that Lewis states at the beginning of the book: "No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing." This book shows us more of Lewis's own heart and life than almost anything else he wrote.
It is a great book for those dealing with loss - either for yourself or for someone you know and love. It is often used in grief counseling, and one of the courses I read it for was on the spirituality of death and dying. This book is a gem in the cannon of Lewis literature. It will not disappoint.
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Accessible Lewis,
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This book works through the stuggle of coming to grips with grief over the death of his wife - railing at God, feeling the misunderstanding of friends and disorientation of life and faith.
It reveals truth that we all move through in resolution of our grief. Not moving too quickly through the process, and ending with yet some doubt I found it genuine, real and felt.
I used this with a group and enjoyed the discussion as we discussed a chapter a week. Great Introduction and Foreword, as well. Worthy of discussion, too!
The resource of "Shadowlands" (sreen movie) or "Through the Shadowlands" (BBC film-for-television) are helpful in contextualizing this book. I showed them after we had read the book and was delighted with the insight it gave persons not familiar with Lewis' life and work.
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In his grief, C. S. Lewis finds a more deeply rooted faith.,
By A Customer
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book by an excellent author,
When author Clive Staples Lewis lost his wife to cancer in the 1960's, he was no different than any of us, finding himself asking the same questions about God's goodness and love that a lot of us have. Since Lewis had already lived a full life, his loss was deepened by the lack of promises of future happiness a younger person might find some small comfort in. Yet in the wee hours when his grief and anguish were the most poignant, Lewis - an author all the way - took to filling blank pads of paper in his house with the thoughts and feelings that his bereavement brought.
Even though I have not personally experienced anything near the kind of grief that this book deals with, I still found this book to be an amazing read. The deepest grief I've ever experienced was the loss of a family pet, yet from that small sampling I can just barely grasp what Lewis went through. Indeed any person not accustomed to grief can begin to understand it by reading the beautiful language that fills the pages of this book.
It is a short book, ringing in with only four chapters, and 76 pages. Yet all of them are filled with the balm of Lewis's reflections and introspection, and all of them are able to help a grieving person, if for nothing else than to know that they're not alone.
For any person who might be undergoing a period of sorrow, I highly recommend this book. It is not a lot of heavy reading, thus possibly making it easier on someone who is already in such pain. The wonderfully poetic, graceful language gives body and soul to the multitude of emotions that wash through a grieving person, especially in dark hours. These emotions, I'm sure, are experienced by everyone, but with the comments and insight of one of Christendom's favorite authors, it makes this work a priceless treasure.
If you, or someone you know is going through a difficult time of loss and heartache, buy this book for them. It is a must-read for anyone in pain.
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